AT&T Disables Free iPhone Wi-Fi (For Now)

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On Wednesday, we reported that AT&T had begun offering free Wi-Fi access to iPhone users at many of their national Wi-Fi hotspots, including Starbucks and Barnes & Noble locations.

No official announcement had been made, however, and AT&T representatives reportedly declined to comment. Today, many users are reporting that the free iPhone access has been removed and users are unable to log-in with just their phone number. This appears to be true at locations that were verified to offer the free Wi-Fi access just days before.

Based on the screenshot and wording of the login page ("Free AT&T Wi-Fi for iPhone"), there can be no doubt that the service was intentional, but it appears it may have been launched prematurely. Regardless, we still expect the service to be officially announced in the future.

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ramuman

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Mar 7, 2005
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I expect the service to return in the future - maybe around when the 3G iPhone is released. Also, WiFi was free for DSL and EDGE subscribers in general I think, not just iPhone users.
 

mkrishnan

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So I'm still trying to understand this situation...sorry. AT&T includes free hotspot access as part of the iPhone plans, correct? But that coverage doesn't always extend to every AT&T hotspot, and in particular, the ones inside Starbucks and Barnes & Nobles don't work?

So in essence, with AT&T having outbid T-Mobile and taken over the Starbucks hotspot contract, as well as having bagged the iPhone, I get access to Starbucks hotspots on my unlocked iPhone on T-Mobile (because T-Mobile also includes hotspot access in data plans and Starbucks arranged for free T-Mobile roaming on their hotspots)? And you (who use the iPhone officially on AT&T) don't?

Niiiiice. :rolleyes:
 

CommanderData

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Dec 1, 2007
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The free wifi for iPhone users was shut off due to the fact it was easily cheated. Anyone can set their user-agent string to Safari and connect to the wifi if they know a valid iPhone telephone number.

This means you could connect with your laptop if you used your buddy's number for free!

Read more here: http://blogs.zdnet.com/security/?p=1067
 

arn

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So I'm still trying to understand this situation...sorry. AT&T includes free hotspot access as part of the iPhone plans, correct?
No, AT&T has never promised free Wi-Fi hotspot access with iPhone service. That's why the news of it on Wednesday was such a big deal.

arn
 

solipsism

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I expect the service to return in the future - maybe around when the 3G iPhone is released. Also, WiFi was free for DSL and EDGE subscribers in general I think, not just iPhone users.
yes, but this was a special portal for WiFI users. The HotSpot would monitor the USer Agent and take you to a special iPhone Safari page to access the internet.

Probably because anyone who knew someone with an iPhone and who knew how to spoof a user-agent could get free WiFi
I concur.There is only a couple ways AT&T can prevent the spoofing from occurring.

The first, if they want it now, is to have you put in your AT&T iPhone phone number, then AT&T sends you a random SMS code that you then put into the webpage to gain access. This would still allow access to those with access to an iPhone that are spoofing their User Agent.

The second is to not allow iPhones on the AT&T WiFi network until v2.0 comes out. This way, AT&T can have a free or 99¢ app—which will more than pay for the development—that authenticates you on the AT&T hotspots.
 

solipsism

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No, AT&T has never promised free Wi-Fi hotspot access with iPhone service. That's why the news of it on Wednesday was such a big deal.
But it does make sense to include it for the largest bandwidth eater in their lineup. AT&T's data over WiFi is significantly cheaper to operate and upgrade than their W-CDMA or even EDGE network. So the more iPhones AT&T can push onto the el cheapo WiFi connections at hotspots the better for them, and since the speed will most likely be faster than the carrier network in speed and latency it's better for the consumer.
 

tba03

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Sep 18, 2007
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until thy figure out how to filter all of us changing the user agent of safari to iphone, greedy att
 

MacSlut

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Funny, today I fount an AT&T hotspot that used to charge $10 a day, but is totally free. It doesn't ask for an iPhone number, just a check box for having agreed to the terms. This wasn't at a Startbucks or Barnes & Noble, but a hotspot in the San Francisco Bay area.
 

PlaceofDis

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probably going to have to wait from an update from apple so that it can indeed be limited to iphones, or some way to not let the people using the id spoof get on the networks
 

MacSlut

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Also want to say that I hope this was just a temporary glitch. Free WiFi access for iPhone owners (and the small percentage that hack) would be totally worth it. AT&T should consider offering this, if not free, for a small fee added to your bill and then give people passwords.
 

gkarris

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No, AT&T has never promised free Wi-Fi hotspot access with iPhone service. That's why the news of it on Wednesday was such a big deal.

arn
Oh, I was wondering what the big deal was.

Wierd. DSL subscribers (as long as it not the basic DSL package) get access to AT&T WiFi Hotspots.

Maybe AT&T is going to give it to EDGE subscribers eventually as well...

(T-Mobile EDGE subscribers get hotspot access...)
 

sebastianlewis

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Jan 2, 2007
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Hmm, it really is kind of stupid to rely on the browser agent anyway, Apple should build it into the iPhone's software and offer a preference to automatically transfer from EDGE to AT&T's WiFi when possible.. hmm.. that's an interesting idea though: a user interface that allowed you to drag and drop different networks based on priority, your home network might be #1, Corporate WiFi network as #2, HSPA as #3 (when that version of the iPhone comes out), AT&T WiFi as #4 and EDGE as #5 maybe, and be able to do this with any WiFi network you have access to in addition to AT&T's (or the others) services.

It shouldn't do this based on just availability either, but based on which is the fastest and most available at the time.

Sebastian
 

deftdrummer

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Feb 1, 2008
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The free wifi for iPhone users was shut off due to the fact it was easily cheated. Anyone can set their user-agent string to Safari and connect to the wifi if they know a valid iPhone telephone number.

This means you could connect with your laptop if you used your buddy's number for free!

Read more here: http://blogs.zdnet.com/security/?p=1067
yeah steps to spoof in order to gain free wifi access were posted on the net within hours of the free wifi announcement. Seems everyone is out to skirt the perks of being an iphone user these days. Be it with their "iphone killers," (claimed only due to the integration of a "touch" screen), or free wifi access in Starbucks, spiting the iphone industry seems to be the latest craze.